God’s Existence and God’s Nature
We will look at some of the major arguments for the existence of God, in both their historical forms, and in the more modern versions. This will include especially the ontological argument, the first cause argument, and the argument from design. Then we will move on to consider some of the properties traditionally attributed to God, and problems that follow therefrom. For example we shall consider His supposed simplicity, His timelessness, His omniscience (and its consequences for human freedom) and how one reconciles His goodness – or not – with the existence of evil.
The outcome should be that the students are able to participate in professional-level discussion of the topics mentioned and will have formed their own view about the soundness of the arguments under discussion. They will be able to form their own opinion about whether modern science and cosmology reinforces the traditional arguments and whether understanding the logic of the concept of existence can validate Anselm’s intuitions. They will also be able to form a view on whether the notion of an absolutely simple but divinely perfect being makes sense, whether His omniscience is compatible with human freedom, and whether the existence of evil is compatible with His goodness.
30% Tutorial. Midway through the term, each student will meet one to one for 15 minutes with the course instructor, for the purpose of assessing the student’s knowledge and understanding of the first half of the course.
70% Final paper. Participation in the seminar will be taken into consideration in cases of borderline grades for each of the written assignments, and may result in a higher or lower grade.
All course requirements must be completed in order to earn a grade for the class.